Lorenzo stumbles in first tough test against Marquez

Originally Published: June 21, 2008
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Middleweight Giovanni Lorenzo, despite 26 previous professional fights and an undefeated record, had never been tested against a serious opponent.

That was the job of Raul Marquez, a veteran former junior middleweight titleholder and 1992 U.S. Olympian.

Lorenzo failed the test.

Despite suffering a badly cut right eye in the 10th round, Marquez, 36, outpunched Lorenzo to win a unanimous decision in the title elimination bout Saturday night at the Hard Rock Live arena.

The victory earned Marquez (41-3-1, 29 KOs) a shot against beltholder Arthur Abraham, who faced Edison Miranda in a nontitle rematch in the main event.

All three judges scored the fight for Marquez, 114-113. ESPN.com had it 116-111 for Marquez.

The bout would have been a draw on all three cards but referee Jorge Alonso docked Lorenzo a point for head butting Marquez late in the 10th round, a round that Lorenzo (26-1, 18 KOs) appeared to win easily.

"Absolutely, the point deduction was justified. He couldn't hurt me with punches so he started head butting me to try to take me off my game," Marquez said. "I was stronger, better prepared and determined to win."

After a standout amateur career, during which Lorenzo, 27, represented the Dominican Republic in the 2000 Olympics, his pro career had moved slowly. He had yet to face a notable opponent, although he steadily moved up the sanctioning organization rankings.

But finally, he and his handlers, who could have pressed for an immediate mandatory against Abraham, allowed the Abraham-Miranda rematch to take place while Lorenzo faced Marquez in an elimination fight.

Lorenzo, who had stopped his previous eight opponents, knew he needed a test before stepping up to face Abraham. It turned out to be a much stiffer one than he anticipated.

Marquez, the first southpaw Lorenzo had ever faced, is now on a 6-0-1 run since being stopped by former middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in 2004 and a two-year layoff that followed.

Now he's back in a title fight.

"I am always learning and now I have a shot a world title (opportunity) and I think I deserve it," Marquez said. "I am a warrior. I am with (Warriors Boxing promoter) Leon Margules. That's why they signed me. Everyone knows that I come to fight. You saw him. He tried some dirty tactics, head butting and holding. But I come to give the people what they want to see, a fight. I am moving on to better and bigger things."

By the third round, Lorenzo had already bruised the cut-prone Marquez under both eyes. But Marquez continued to stalk forward and land shots.

In the fifth round Marquez, seemingly tired of chasing Lorenzo around the ring, stopped and stood in the middle of the canvas and motioned for Lorenzo to come to him and fight.

By the middle rounds, Marquez appeared in control.

"That was my game plan," he said. "We couldn't get to him faster, though, and I didn't look my best, but styles make fights. I had correct sparring and was ready for him. But he's young, very hungry, he's awkward and I thought dirty at times. But that's boxing. I did what I had to do. I think I took over in the middle rounds. I could see he was wearing down. He's never been more than 8 rounds."

Marquez continued to keep the pressure on Lorenzo, who began to pick up the pace in a hard-hitting eighth round during which men were rocked.

Lorenzo opened the cut over Marquez's right eye in the 10th, but lost the critical point later in the round.

They both came out swinging in the 11th as blood continued to flow from Marquez's eye. But he caught Lorenzo with a hard right hand that staggered him just before the end of the round.

Lorenzo was on the move in the 12th, trying to stay away, but Marquez continued to walk him down and fire.

• Heavyweight Elijah "Atomic Son" McCall (1-0, 1 KO), the son of former heavyweight titleholder Oliver McCall, made a smashing professional debut.

With his father shouting instructions to him from the corner, McCall blew out Darion Moss (0-2), knocking him down twice and scoring a first-round TKO.

Oliver McCall, who still fights and is known as the "Atomic Bull," has a terrific right hand and his son seems to also have one. The first knockdown came on a right hand, but Moss got to his feet at eight.

Moss landed a few shots and it's clear that McCall will need to work on his defense, but he quickly dropped Moss again with another right hand along the ropes. Referee Jorge Alonso didn't bother to count and called it off at 2:41.

McCall, 20, had no amateur boxing experience, but has had spirited sparring sessions with his father, who once knocked out Lennox Lewis to win a piece of the heavyweight crown. Elijah McCall played college football, seeing action in six games for James Madison University in 2007 as a 6-foot-1, 250-pound defensive tackle, before electing to pursue a pro boxing career.

• Female welterweight Cecilia Braekhus (8-0, 2 KOs), the first woman ever signed by German promoter Sauerland Event, which promotes Abraham, cruised to a dominant six-round decision win against New York's Nicole Woods (4-3) in the first female bout to be staged at the Hard Rock Live arena.

Braekhus, 26, has an interesting background. Born in Colombia, she was in foster care until age 2 when she was adopted by Norwegian parents. She grew up in Norway, won European amateur titles as a kickboxer and then moved to Berlin to pursue a boxing career. She is gaining a following in Germany and her bouts are televised in Norway.

• Junior welterweight prospect Kenny Galarza (6-0, 6 KOs) of Puerto Rico scored two brutal knockdowns in the first round to dust Panama's Heraclides Barrantes (5-1-1, 2 KOs) for a knockout at 2:59.

Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.